|The elephant statues outside the front door of the mission home|
|Posing with the complimentary gas masks which our ever-so considerate hotel provided for us in Ho Chi Minh|
Gosh I've been dreaming of that for 5 years, since I was a sophomore in high school! I've been telling people since I was 15 that he should come to the Spurs because he would fit so well into their offensive schematics; the Spurs live and die off three-point shooting role players who come off the bench! Well sorry to start off with something so worldly and unrelated to the mission, but I had like 5 people email me about that so it had to be addressed...
Now relating to things that are important right now:
This week was great! It’s kind of weird to be emailing y’all. I actually didn't put it together until I got on today that the last time I emailed y’all was just this Monday, and I was in Vietnam then! It seems like forever since then! It’s not really like this has been a slow week or anything, it’s just seems like a way long time. It’s kind of like the mission. The mission flies by faster than anything you could ever imagine. Times whizzes by faster than you can comprehend. But at the same time I feel like I've been on my mission for a long time, just because I'm so wrapped up in everyday missionary life. It’s a strange paradox. It’s really hard to remember my past life sometimes. Khmaes always like to ask us whether we're homesick. To be honest, I always can honestly say, "ya I miss home, but I'm not homesick whatsoever." At this point, y’all honestly don't even seem all that real to me. Just a pleasant dream from sometime before. I hope y’all don't take offense to that, haha. The mission becomes your all-consuming life.
That's amazing about Papa! That touched me really strong when I read your email about how he was the branch president in Tan Son Nhat back in the day. I attended that branch nearly 50 years later without even knowing! What a legacy. The Christensens were super excited to hear about that too when I told them. [Editor’s note: Elder Neuberger’s grandfather served in Vietnam in 1967-68 and served as the president of the Tan Son Nhat branch. At that time it was comprised of mainly servicemen.]
We had a great final day in Hanoi. After we left the email place we finished up p-day activities and then went contacting for 3 hours by walking around, talking to people around the perimeter of this huge lake in Hanoi. President and Sister Christensen were way worried about us going out I think, but nothing bad happened, haha. We were contacting we would just let them walk up to people and then we would just keep walking for like another 20 feet so that it was clear we weren't participating in it. Then when the elders would walk up to us after they were done talking to the people we would ask for the play-by-play.
Tuesday morning we boarded an airplane and after a half-hour layover in Vientiane, Laos we made it back to Phnom Penh. We were all glad to be back. Although Cambodia is dirtier, smellier, and overall less developed than Vietnam, it’s just got such an endearing, loveable quality about it. When we were over in Vietnam it was surely such a special blessing for the Christensen's to see the progress in the church there since 40 years ago, but even President Christensen was like, "you know, this just isn't Cambodian. I miss hearing Khmae. Vietnamese has the tones, but Khmae just has more cooler sounds than any other language you'll hear." I don't know if I'll ever go back to Vietnam. I hope so. I think we might go back up to do zone conferences. President will be going back up again by himself in a couple weeks to do interviews.
Haha, one random funny fact about Vietnam: you know those flat conical-shaped, straw hats that are super stereotypically Asian? Those are everywhere in Vietnam. Literally probably 1/3 of the women at any given time are wearing them. It’s pretty cool
It amazed us how different Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are. Ho Chi Minh has a very Western Asian city feeling to it, if that makes sense. Like it feels like you're in a Tokyo or Seoul or Singapore, or some other westernized-developed city. It has an extremely free market. However, there is propaganda EVERYWHERE in Ho Chi Minh. It really seemed like we were stepping into a high school textbook. Like I didn't know there were places with that sort of stuff everywhere anymore. I thought that was 60's and 70's cold war sort of stuff. But no, it’s still in Vietnam. It’s like doing missionary work in a documentary movie. With all the propaganda in Ho Chi Minh we were like, man we can't even imagine how much there will be in Hanoi. Then we get there and there is almost none! There’s still a ton, but it’s more of a Cambodian level than a Ho Chi Minh (Cambodia has a lot of propaganda from it’s ruling party too). We were wondering why that was. We figured that Hanoi would have the most, as it is the capital city. But the thing is that everyone in Hanoi is already a cog in the system who are totally on board with the government. It’s down south in Ho Chi Minh, where the rebellion began way back when, where they do all the propaganda to really get it in the south Vietnamese faces so that they support the government too.
In the airport in Vietnam we ran into a member! We were about to go through the final passport/ticket check to go to the international boarding gates and we hear this "Elders?!" and we turn around and see this little Poly lady (well I think she was poly) standing behind us. We weren't wearing our tags since we were in Vietnam and so she was just like "Oh nope, not yet!" (haha, we thought that response was way funny). We were like "No, no, no we're elders, look!" I pulled my Khmae tag out of my pocket and showed it to her and she went cross-eyed looking at it. Haha, I haven't seen that sort of reaction to Khmae since the MTC. She was way nice and was super excited to see missionaries in such a random place. She couldn't believe there were missionaries in Vietnam. It’s cool how elders are recognizable even from the back (well to Americans at least). When we're traveling with the Moons or the Christensens the locals always assume that Elder Eppley and I are their sons, hahaha. It does feel that way a lot of the time
Well the transfer madness has begun. We've had some long meetings with President Christensen getting together a rough draft. This transfer is tricky because there will be like 10 missionaries finishing in the middle of this transfer, so we'll have a little mini transfer in another 3 weeks, so it’s kind of like a huge puzzle trying to make companionships that can easily collapse in like 3 weeks when those missionaries leave so that it’s as least messy as possible. When we did transfers with President Moon what would happen is he would kind of come up with a rough draft and then we would come in and discuss it with him for hours. With this transfer though we basically came up with the whole rough draft and he offered his own ideas. After that something interesting and very new occurred. President called the new senior sister training leader (a new assignment just created) Sister Jepsen, to come in and give her thoughts on the transfer outlook. That’s the first time a sister (besides the president's wife) has ever been involved in transfers in our mission (well, that I know of). It was different, but it was great to get her perspective on different sisters' situations. She had a lot to contribute. I love how our church continues to improve and grow in its practices, without changing the doctrines whatsoever. We have always always, always believed that men and women are perfectly equal and complimentary and loved by God, and we always always, always will. It’s just that now, especially with the new Sacrament-planning meeting with the entire ward council and with the age change for sister missionaries, we can see the role of women ever more prominently in the institutions and programs in our church, which is a wonderful change.
I love this church, because God Himself has revealed the doctrine, and can never and will never change. The practices and institutions and programs in the Church are always changing and improving however, to more perfectly reflect and teach the doctrine which they have been designed to help us learn and implement. What a perfectly set-up system of imperfect people the true Church is!
The Church is true. It’s amazing how many hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of times I've heard the First Vision said on my mission (whether by my own voice or my companion's) and I still get the most wonderful confirming feeling in my heart every time from the Holy Ghost, confirming to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that through him the true church of Jesus Christ was restored, including the true organization of that church, namely prophets and apostles. In a few weeks all of the members here will get to see and hear and learn from one of those apostles, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a man who holds the same exact office and keys that men like Peter, James, and John held in ancient times (and still hold). It’s time to get the members to wrap their heads around that fact so that they can adequately prepare themselves!
I love y’all!
Love Elder Burger
|View from our hotel in Battombang (from our khaet trip a couple weeks ago)|
|Sombor, basically the mission handyman|
|Sister Leavitt, the mission secretary|
|Entrance to the Christensens' living quarters|